I’ve decided that every month I would feature a Nurse that has impacted my life in some way. Nurses can have many different career paths as well as specialties, so I want to showcase those gifts. I am shining the light on someone I truly appreciate. Funny story I met Charlene a while back on Twitter simply because we were huge fans of Beyonce and that bond grew into something more than just being fans of the Queen B herself. She became someone I could confide in about my nursing journey struggles. Ever the supportive Queen that she is, Charlene took on the role of being my mentor and has since been guiding me along the way on pursuit to getting my nursing degree.
Charlene White-Lowery CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) graduated from St. Elizabeth’s school for Nurse Anesthesia in November 2011 with a MSN (Master’s of Nursing). Her journey to Anesthesia was atypical. She applied to 3 programs over a period of 3 years and on her final attempt, and interview she was accepted. The twist is she had also been pursuing an MSN with a specialty in Clinical Nurse specialty with a cardiac track. She was offered a position in that program and had one semester left to graduate when she was finally accepted into Anesthesia school.
The decision to start all over as an Anesthesia student was difficult but so rewarding. St. Elizabeth’s program is rigorous with a focus on clinical from the first month in the program. She was one of only 6 African Americans to come through that program. Some preceptors were wonderful and some were unnecessarily harsh. In spite of them, and personal tragedy during school of a devastating home fire , in which Charlene lost everything she owned including all of her books and being homeless she remembered the road and sacrifice she had to make to get through. Charlene graduated with a 4.0 GPA and passed her boards 6 weeks later.
Charlene’s pieces of advice for Anesthesia students are: KNOW YOU WILL MAKE IT, IT IS NOT A RACE BUT A TEST OF ENDURANCE! Learn and do the work and you will be rewarded. She loves the Anesthesia profession, she loves providing care to patients at their most vulnerable time. Being a soft eyed, kindhearted & competent professional that she is allows her patients to go to sleep with less fear.
She began making O.R caps because she loves color and making people feel good. O.R scrubs are usually either green or blue and very boring. Charlene also makes caps with satin to help protect hair from breakage. She uses a portion of the proceeds from the caps to assist in paying for her autistic son’s therapy costs.
I had the pleasure of interviewing this driven, charismatic and amazing individual.
What made you choose nursing as a career?
I chose nursing as a career because I knew it was a giving profession that also allowed for growth.
Where did you start your career, what specialty and where are you working now?
I began my nursing career in the year 2000 as a telemetry RN in Baptist hospital in Pensacola Florida . Today I am the lead CRNA at a group 4 of Gastroenterology Clinics.
What experience do you have in the nursing field?
As a nurse I’ve practiced in the following areas Cardiac Telemetry & Surgical Cardiovascular Intensive Care. As a CRNA I specialized in all vascular cases and now gastroenterology as an independent practitioner.
What was your biggest obstacle in nursing/ nursing school?
The largest obstacle I’ve overcome was the lack of mentorship to help bridge from one area to another. I’ve also had to overcome my own self doubt because of my past experiences in my education.
What are some suggestions you would give to a new nurse or aspiring nurse?
I would advise anyone that is a new grad to work in a unit that encourages growth & knowledge. I would advise you to not look down on a position as “just med surge “. Or “just take” these positions give you a great foundation to build on .
To all of the aspiring nurses out there do not be discouraged! Stay the course! Focus on your goals, study in the manner your brain learns in. Learn and understand the material and if you don’t, have a ready and available mentor.
What shift do you work? What shifts are available to work?
As a CRNA I currently work Monday -Friday 7:30am-4:00pm and some Saturdays.
-Friday 7:30am-4:00pm and some Saturdays.
What made you decide to become a CRNA?
I became a CRNA because I was encouraged to do so by some kick ass CRNAs that were my former colleagues in the ICU. I shadowed an anesthetist and fell in love. I loved the critical thinking and autonomy that they had. I wanted to be in that position.
How did you go about the application process for the Certified Nursing Anesthesia program?
I applied to Anesthesia school twice. Both years I got an interview. The first year I was not given a spot and I took that time to read as much as I could about Anesthesia and the CRNA profession. When I returned for my next interview I was more confident and I knew God had prepared me and I assisted by doing the work to be successful. It was by far the best thing I’ve done for myself.
If you want to or know of any Nurse or Nursing student who you think would be a good fit to showcase their talent or share their story leave a comment below or shoot me an email. Let’s chat!